I’m still not 100% sure if putting an entire sandwich through the tempura process was a stroke of genius or madness. See I have a very strong passion for hot ham and cheese sandwiches. I touched on it years ago with my croque madame recipe, but I needed more.
Part of the inspiration for this dish comes from the famous Disney parks monte cristo with blackberry preserves. The other half of the inspo comes from my love of Japanese techniques and flavors I tend to use more when I cook for myself vs. for the blog.
As soon as I took my first bite I was taken on a journey. This sandwich has crunchy, salty, sweet, fruity, spicy, and gooey all in one. It’s one of those things that’s perfect, but also its mere existence is terrifying at the same time.
Picture it: Belton 2001. One day when the Marshall Primary School menu for the next week was released everyone’s attention was immediately captured by something we never heard of, bird dogs. None of the other kids knew what it was, and to add insult to injury none of the adults did either. Not even the lunch ladies!
What we got was a total game changer. Bird dogs consist of chicken fingers, bacon, honey mustard, and cheddar tucked into a hot dog bun. When I explain it to people who never lived in Anderson county, South Carolina they never seemed to get it, but honestly it’s so perfect. Somehow the hotdog bun proportions are so much more satisfying than the normal chicken sandwich and I will die on that hill.
Clearly I’m not the only one to think so because these little buns of glory became a cultural icon in my hometown. They worked their way into mom and pop restaurants, sleepovers, and I even went to a banquet where they were served!
If you ever wanted a super obscure southern dish that you can’t even find on Google that doubles as stoner food then look no further! I mean come on, look at that!
I’m going to keep it real with y’all. I’ve been all about going healthier lately and finding healthy substitutions for carb and fat heavy dishes. But when it comes to fries I say screw it. My hot take is that there is no perfect fry substitute. Sweet potato fries? Close, but they’re always kind of flacid. Zucchini chips/wedges? I’d eat it, but don’t give it to me and tell me it’s supposed to fill my fry craving. Those breaded cauliflower sticks in the freezer section? Bro, no.
Eating healthy is great and awesome, but sometimes you just need some potatoes and a pot of grease. To up the anty we’re also going to dunk these babies in a spiced beer batter for optimum crunch and flavor. Everything in moderation, right?
Ever since I was little Hanukkah was always my favorite holiday. While all the kids I went to school with (I was the only Jew) thought I loved it because they assumed it meant eight days of presents. One, no way that was happening. Two, presents are cool, but honestly my favorite thing about Hanukkah was getting to shove my mom’s latkes into my face as fast as possible.
For those who have never had a latke picture this: The ultimate hash browns that are crispy all the way around, but with a slight fluffiness like a pancake. They’re perfection. Like almost all of my mom’s cooking she didn’t really have a set recipe for me, but she gave me her advice and I have done my best to create a working recipe. I’ll always think my mom’s can’t be beat, but at the same time these are really damn tasty! Traditionally they’re topped with either ketchup, sour cream or apple sauce.
A fact about me: Dinner parties are my ish. I love attending them, I love hosting them, but most of all I love making unreasonable amounts of food for them. One time I attended a potluck for the opening of a local music venue and had to use a laundry basket to carry in all the food I made. Seriously. So take it from this potluck princess, fried macaroni and cheese makes the perfect party bite.
I think the best place to start talking about this dish is to describe the glory that is chicken cordon bleu. Imagine a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Got that image in your head? Good, now take away the bread and replace it with chicken. So this dish is already sounding insanely decadent and delicious.